Understanding Liposuction

  • Wednesday June 21, 2006 | Posted in: Plastic Surgery Procedures

    Now more than ever, people are appreciating the benefits of liposuction. If there is one thing though that can dampen anybody’s interest is the “suction” procedure. The thought of having tubes inserted on your belly is a real scare.

    If by now you have conquered your fears and are certain about having one, this article will give you a basic understanding of the process. It will serve you well if you consider:

    • When it can help - considering cultural ideals, sizing up your health and body, what liposuction can (and can't) do, avoiding the magic wand syndrome.
    • Who are qualified – and how will your plastic surgeon evaluate your for liposuction?
    • How it is performed –the preparation, the procedure, types of anesthesia and different techniques.

    Whatever explanations here may not satisfy all of your concerns, since much depends on individual circumstances. Please ask your cosmetic surgeon if there is anything about liposuction you don't understand.

    First, the definition: A procedure that removes excess fat through a suctioning process. Although liposuction is not a substitute for weight loss, it is a way of changing the body's shape and contour (Yale Medical Group).

    To know more about other liposuction-related terminologies, visit:

    Liposuction can work on areas where excess fat can be present, specifically in the:

    Abdomen - the tendency to accumulate fat in the abdomen may be inherited, and this fat is often especially resistant to diet and exercise.

    Hips - the body outline appear quite ‘squarish’ and give its shape excessive fullness which can be unflattering.

    Buttocks (also covers low back above the buttocks, the back of the thigh just below the buttock fold or on the hip at the side of the buttock) - the goal is to create a natural rounded curve to the buttock that recalls the look of the slim, well-proportioned athletic body.

    Thighs - fatty deposits on the inner and outer thighs are especially resistant to diet and exercise causing the overall proportions of the body to appear unbalanced. The goal is to achieve a more attractive balance and symmetry to the body.

    Knees, Calves and Ankles - Fat deposits in these areas are often resistant to diet and exercise; the goal is to improve the proportion of the legs by re-contouring the sides and backs of the knees calves and ankles.

    Upper arms – the goal is to improve a disproportionate appearance of the arm, compared to the rest of the body and achieve a thinner appearance of the arms when the arms are in a relaxed position.

    Chin, Cheeks and Neck – diet and exercise won't improve pockets of excess fat cells causing double chin or a round baby face; the goal is to eliminate and get rid excess fat and or loose, sagging skin in these areas; significant tightening of chin, cheeks and neck results to a more youthful, tighter jaw line

    Excess fat is utterly stubborn, unwanted and if traditional weight-loss methods prove futile, cosmetic surgeons are presenting liposuction as an option. However, it is not with a reminder that no type of liposuction is a substitute for exercise and dieting.

    Fats and all, not everyone is a good candidate for liposuction. We wanted that you read the “who’s not” first and if you have checked that you simply cannot make the cut – so to speak, then treat the rest of the article as “nice-to-knows”.

    NO to Liposuction

    On top of all qualifications for liposuction is good health. Certainly anyone who suffers from any serious illness, either physical or emotional is not suitable. Liposuction carries greater risk of complications from surgery for individuals with hypertension and diabetes.

    Certain pre-existing conditions should be thoroughly checked and brought under control before any surgery, including liposuction, here listed by www.shands.org:

    • History of cardiac problems (heart attack)
    • Hypertension
    • Diabetes
    • Reactions to medications (allergies)
    • Pulmonary problems (shortness of breath, air pockets in blood stream)
    • Allergies (antibiotics, asthma, surgical prep)
    • Smoking, alcohol, or drug use
      • Patients who have recently had surgery near the area to be contoured are likewise discouraged. In most cases, patients with obesity, clotting disorders, and untreated hernias in the area of surgery are rejected.

        Age is not a major consideration; however, patients over 40 may have diminished skin elasticity and must understand that skin contraction is less likely and loose skin can occur. Likewise, patients with cellulite, stretch marks and major post-operative scarring do not get as good a result.

        Liposuction, Go Ahead.

        You are a best candidate for liposuction if you are psychologically stable, physically healthy and under normal-weight category. Your surgeon will check and see to it that you have firm, elastic skin with pockets of excess fat in certain areas.

        Meanwhile, these sites are asking the same question: “Are you a good candidate for liposuction?” Check out their answers –


        Rounding up, your health is not an issue. So you still feel that you are not “in perfect shape.” You anxiously need this one, liposuction…go ahead.

        We know you have allotted much thought -- but have you checked your expectations? Do they come any closer to being realistic? Yes, liposuction can enhance your appearance and self confidence but your hope should come with an understanding that it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal or cause other people to treat you differently.

        It’s important that you know about what the procedure can do for you. So before you decide to have liposuction, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your cosmetic surgeon.

        The ‘Suction’ Method

        The procedure is usually done under a general anaesthetic, which will put you to sleep, unable to feel any pain. Alternatively, the surgery can be carried out under a local anaesthetic that will cause the applied area to numb but will left you awake and naturally aware. Still, most surgeons require a dose of sedative to put you “unconscious.”

        The intriguing part of liposuction is the “suction” part which is best explained in this brief: the localized excess fat in the layer between the skin and the muscle is removed through multiple small incisions using individual suctioned “tubes” called cannula (a hollow pen-like instrument).

        When first introduced, liposuction used two methods, sharp and blunt (referring to the suction cannula). The sharp method allowed the fat to be carved at the same time as suctioning, but unpredictable surge of blood supply to the skin posed a problem. It also sometimes left distinct marks on the surface. Smaller blunt cannula is used in most procedures today and introduced through several openings. Suctioning close to the skin surface has an increased risk of scarring and irregularity of the skin.

        The first few suctions would draw fat with a tint of yellow. Subsequently it becomes pink then red as more bleeding occurs. The surgeon measures the amount of fat removed by rolling the skin between the fingers and feeling the surface. Suctioning stops when the desired amount is removed, or when the suctioned fat becomes excessively bloody.

        How much fat to remove?

        Amounts of fat less than 1500 ml can be removed with few fluid balance problems. Fluid replacement may be needed if more than 1500 mls of fat are removed. Fat removal of close to 4000 ml would need a blood transfusion. For safety reasons, fat removal is limited to 5,000 cc's per operation.

        The Suction is over...

        The last part of the treatment - application of tape or compression garment - is a very delicate procedure. It compresses the skin against the underlying muscle and helps to prevent fluid and blood collecting which may impair the cosmetic result.

        For more information, check out this guide: How to Research Liposuction Procedures Online

        Liposuction may be completed as an out-patient case. However, a more extensive treatment will put you under close supervision and will require an overnight stay in the clinic.

        Our next installments on ‘Understanding Liposuction’ will deal on different liposuction techniques - because you wanted the most appropriate for you with more precise results and quicker recovery times. We will also cover ‘after the operation’ and recovering. And yes, it is but appropriate that we also hint you on the costs involved.

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